Paul Konerko is at peace with retirement, but his children need convincing

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He’s as analytical as they come, so it’s safe to assume Paul Konerko has thoroughly dissected what his future after baseball and the White Sox holds in store.

The White Sox team captain feels as prepared as he can for what’s ahead and said Thursday — four days before his career ends — he’s at peace with his decision.

Konerko’s children haven’t had the chance to process what dad’s retirement after Sunday’s game means, nor do they have the ability at this point in their young lives to fully comprehend it. So while Konerko plans to step away from baseball after 21 professional seasons, including 16 with the White Sox, he said his oldest son has already established some parameters for how long the absence can last.

[WATCH: Konerko thanks fans with video tribute]

“My kid said the other day that he’s going to allow me to be out for a year then I have to get back in,” Konerko said. “But the reasons are that he’s great friends with the kid that lives next door to us (in Chicago) and he loves the chicken fingers at the ballpark. So that’s what I’m working with.”

As for what he expects over the final series, Konerko isn’t really sure. With a bunch of family, friends and former teammates in town, Konerko plans to “take it as it comes,” he said.

Originally scheduled to play Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, the team’s plans changed and Konerko will instead play the final three games. He hopes to play mostly at first base and said he would willingly leave Sunday’s finale were he to hit a home run. He also promises to stick around for another at-bat if he hits a dribbler to the pitcher.

Konerko strolled to home plate before first pitch on Thursday to hand out the team’s lineup card, something he also did before Wednesday’s game. As he did, the team played Konerko’s “Thank You” video for White Sox fans, which led to applause and the first of what promises to be one of many “Paulie” chants over the final four days.

Konerko said he shot the video right before the team left for its nine-game road trip and is pleased with the production.

“It’s everything I kind of wanted to get across,” Konerko said.

[MORE KONERKO: The career that almost never was]

Konerko also feels good about the direction the White Sox are headed and sticking around this season. Asked for some of his favorite U.S. Cellular Field career memories, Konerko cited Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, Mark Buehrle’s perfect game and no-hitter, the “blackout game” from the 2008 season and a fight with the Detroit Tigers in 2000.

“That was a good one,” Konerko said.

Konerko said he’s proud of his World Series ring but even more for staying with the White Sox when twice he could have left as a free agent.

In citing some of his strongest influences, Konerko rattled off his father, ex-White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker, and former assistant hitting coach and current Arizona Rookie League manager Mike Gellinger.

“Without (Walker and Gellinger) I don’t do a lot of things,” Konerko said.

Konerko recalls a conversation with Walker from five or six seasons earlier in which the hitting coach challenged him to exhaust all his energy before he retired. Using an unprintable word, Walker told him anything less was unacceptable and Konerko feels like he has lived up to the expectation.

[ALSO: Clarity about future has helped Konerko enjoy final run]

“‘If you don’t max out with everything you’ve got, that’s what you are,’ ” Konerko said of the advice. “There’s definitely a satisfaction knowing as far as I could with it because I didn’t want to let him down and of course myself down. But there’s a lot of that, where you feel happy you got everything you could get out of it. There’s nothing left.

“I have no doubt it’s the right time and the right thing. That’s all cleared away in my head.”

For now, Konerko has no plans to return to baseball because of his children’s age and the commitment he knows it would take. He hasn’t closed the door to one day returning, but promises it would be after a lengthy absence because any decision wouldn’t be good for spending time with his family.

Konerko hopes to be more of a tourist when he travels in retirement than baseball has allowed. He’d like to visit Italy and knows he will miss living in Chicago, calling the opportunity to play here one of the best available to players. He also intends to play a lot of golf.

Other than that, Konerko said most of his energy has been dedicated to getting through his final season and he and his wife would worry about their post-career plans afterward.

Now he only has his three children to convince, including his oldest son.

“They understand it’s coming,” Konerko said. “He’s not really happy about it. I don’t think they understand what they’re going to get out of the deal and that’s me being around, being able to do stuff with them that I haven’t been. I think they’ll be fine. We’ll move on and do other things. I think they don’t understand what’s coming because I’m not playing, they only look at what they’re not getting.”

 

New York Yankees roster and schedule for 2020

Yankees roster and schedule
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The 2020 season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The New York Yankees roster and schedule:

YANKEES ROSTER (projected) 

When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Yankees roster to begin the season:

Catchers

Gary Sánchez
Kyle Higashioka

Infielders:

Luke Voit
Mike Ford
DJ LeMahieu
Gio Urshela
Miguel Andújar
Gleyber Torres
Tyler Wade

Outfielders

Aaron Judge
Aaron Hicks
Giancarlo Stanton
Brett Gardner
Mike Tauchman

Starters

Gerrit Cole
Masahiro Tanaka
James Paxton
J.A. Happ
Jordan Montgomery
Jonathan Loaisiga

Relievers

Aroldis Chapman
Zack Britton
Adam Ottavino
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
Luis Cessa
Jonathan Holder
Tyler Lyons
David Hale


BREAKDOWN:

It’s weird to say this but the delay to the season due to the pandemic actually helped the Yankees a fair amount. Because of new injuries and extended rehab from older injuries, the very injured 2019 New York Yankees were poised to begin the regular season with many key players on the injured list, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and James Paxton, among others. It’s not 100% clear if all of those guys will be back and at full strength when the club starts play next week, but Stanton and Paxton seem like a go right now and Judge and Hicks are ramping up.

Obviously the biggest change for 2020, though, is Gerrit Cole, the Yankees big free agent acquisition last winter. Adding arguably the game’s best starter will take a lot of pressure off of the other guys in the rotation and ease the workload of a bullpen that, however deep and talented it is, could still use a break here and there.

With health, hopefully, not the concern it was back in March or last year, we’re left with a Yankees team that (a) has one of the most loaded lineups in the game; (b) features a much-improved rotation with a clear and solid top-four; and (c) has fantastic bullpen talent and depth. Last year’s team, despite all of the injuries, won 103 games. This year’s team is considered the favorite in the American League and, by extension, in all of baseball.

YANKEES SCHEDULE:

Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.

Yankees home stands will be July 29-Aug. 2 (Phillies, Red Sox), Aug. 11-20 (Braves, Red Sox, Rays), Aug. 28-Sept. 2 (Mets, Rays), Sept. 10-17 (Orioles, Blue Jays) and Sept. 25-27 (Marlins). Their rivalry games against the Red Sox will be July 31-Aug. 2 (Yankee Stadium), Aug. 14-17 (Yankee Stadium) and Sept. 18-20 (Fenway Park). Rivalry games against the Mets will be played Aug. 21-23 (Citi Field) and Aug. 28-30 (Yankee Stadium).

The entire Yankees roster and schedule can be seen here.